August is stargazing weather in Milwaukee. One of the best meteor showers of the year peaks this month – the perfect time for a night under the sky.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs in late summer, when the earth crosses the orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet. During the peak, Aug. 11-13, as many as 50-100 shooting stars fill the sky every hour.
The best time to see the Perseids is between 2 a.m. and dawn, but if you’re not a night owl, your chances of a dazzling light show are still pretty good after 10 p.m. on a clear night.
The most important thing is to be patient, says Jean Creighton, director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee. She recommends setting aside at least an hour or two to maximize your stargazing experience.
For the best views, try to get away from light pollution in the city center. Lake Michigan provides an optimal open horizon – somewhere near a highway could also work, due to the lack of trees nearby.
But don’t go too far out of your way – Creighton emphasizes that
it should be an experience you can enjoy without worrying too much about the logistics. “It’s almost more important that you go somewhere nearby, somewhere easy for you, so that you can maybe check it out twice or three times,” Creighton says. “It’s better to spend the time looking up.”